An unforgiving disease cut Matthew’s father’s life short. But it inspired something else – a gruelling journey fuelled by a desire to give others a fighting chance.
It was six years ago that Matthew Britton (Mat) began what has become an annual tradition to honour his late father – a 250-kilometre ultra-marathon across Queensland.
While it’s a ritual most would find daunting, running was a passion both Mat and his father Tony shared, and so Trail to Triumph: Tony’s Journey was born.
In March 2014, Tony – inspiring coach, astute business person, generous friend and loving husband, father and grandfather – lost his battle with mesothelioma, an unforgiving and incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
Of his many achievements, Tony dedicated more than 40 years of his life to youth development and community interaction, which saw him named 2014 Citizen of the Year.
“A couple of weeks before Dad died, I realised I couldn’t let his name be forgotten. He was too important to too many people – I promised I’d do something big in his honour. I felt like I needed to endure a bit of pain because he went through 16 months of it,” Mat said.
“For Dad and I, running through the bush was always special father and son time – that’s where my passion for running comes from.”
Trail to Triumph is an annual event which sees runners tackle the gruelling 250-kilometre journey from Moranbah to Mackay to commemorate Tony’s life and raise funds and awareness for mesothelioma.
“The first year of Trail to Triumph, I ran the whole thing on my own, with a couple of family members and some close friends of Dad’s and mine acting as a small support crew.”
Since then, the event has grown to include 24 runners, 20 support crew and 60 virtual runners from across the world in 2019.
Each year, the fundraising efforts are growing too. Beyond awareness and education, the Trail to Triumph team have a courageous goal in mind – a lung screening truck to visit work sites and towns across each state and territory to diagnose occupational lung diseases as early as possible.
As the kilometres and hours click over and his body is convinced it can’t possibly go on, Mat takes a moment to remember why it all began.
“Too many people are either going to die without a chance or they’re not going to be diagnosed early and have quality time with family and friends.
“If we made people more aware of the risks and the symptoms across the board with lung disease, we’re going to make a big difference. I want people to have more of a chance.
“When I see the Trail to Triumph logo on the side of a truck and everybody
knows that logo, then I’ll feel I made a difference.”
The team completed the event from 11-13 October and have raised more than $48,000 towards their $70,000 goal. To donate, visit